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DEAD WHITE MALES? MAGDADH'S MUSIC ALPHABET
All About Music
Member Name: MagdaDH
All About Music
Date: 25/07/04, updated on 25/07/04 (120 review reads)
Advantages: it was immense fun to write
Disadvantages: I got carried away
This challenge was initiated by competition_man.
To participate simply think of your favourite artists / duo's / groups etc., then choose your favourite track of theirs - then tell us your choices.
~ The Rules ~
Just three simple rules to adhere to:
1) Use all the letters of the alphabet.
2) Only one choice per letter, ie. no listing close seconds.
3) Give reasons for your choices.
~ Hints ~
Using all the letters may seem an easy task, but believe me, you'll soon discover that some are considerably more difficult than others. Then of course you have the enviable task of choosing just one record.
So here are some hints to help you complete the challenge:
1) Solo artists, duo's or groups are allowed - use them wisely.
eg.: Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores could come under L, R and/or C.
2) Album tracks as well as single releases are allowed, but not whole albums.
3) Proper names and stage names can be used.
eg.: Fredrick Bulsara = Freddie Mercury
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I have to make an intro here.... or really, several caveats.
First, I somehow, for some reason stopped listening to music as such, and especially pop/rock music few years ago. I don't know why, perhaps reading and Internet started to take too much time while I never managed to use music as 'background noise'.
I won't bother with giving 'objective' info about the tracks below; as so many people could do it better than me. I will instead tell you why it was important and meaningful for me.
And lastly, to keep this challenge interesting for readers, I excluded all Polish
artists, and on second thoughts and considering importance of the lyrics for my choices in all but few cases - all non-English-language ones. I also limited myself to widely defined pop and rock; thus no classical music here (and if I listen to anything it would be that now) and no jazz, classic blues or folk....
All letters are used for band/artist names; not track titles. I do take a bit of licence, sometimes.
ATTACK, MASSIVE - SLY. This is probably one of the few tracks remotely connected to the whole modern 'dance music' palaver that more or less missed me (I never was a clubby clubber). My best friend used to be an EMI rep and she got something like 5 albums a month to buy for ridiculous prices. She shared her allowance with me once or twice and this one came as her suggestion. To be perfectly honest, the only reason it's 'Sly' and not another one is that it's the title I can remember... but the music is pretty good, lazy, clubby all right but more in a chill-out way than a dance-floor way. Ah, I am old.
BOWIE, DAVID - HEROES. Just the opposite to the previous choice, Mr Jones has been with me since early teenage years and although the introduction to his world for me was the too-pop-too-love 'Let's Dance' which was released just when I was growing into making my own musical choices; I soon graduated to earlier and better stuff. I still think he is one of the best and most intelligent artists in the history of pop as well as one of the most sexually attractive human beings I have seen on screen (merry Christmas Mr Lawrence comes to my mind here). Heroes is not perhaps your typical theathry, Bowiey stuff that he does (did) best, but it's a haun
tingly beautiful song and appealed to a young person who remembered behind locked behind a barbed-wire fence a few years before when martial law was ruling Poland.
CLASH, THE - GUNS OF BRIXTON. Ah, here we go. If I could listen to one track just before I died it would be probably this one. As with many songs for me, I had first read about it - in a magazine that had aspiration to be the Polish Rolling Stone but, although on the legal market, looked more like a samizdat leaflet. Nevertheless they educated their public very well and one of the scant issues published some kind of the story of the Clash. I knew that I had to listen to the piece that went 'when they kick on your front door, how you gonna come - with your hands on your head? or on the trigger of your gun?'. And all that with me being a confirmed pacifist? Somehow, yes. I wasn't disappointed when I listened to the song, and I was enthralled when I listened to the whole album, and more. The combination of just-about-made-accessible punk energy and lyrics with a message was just perfect. In fact, it still is.
DOORS, THE - THE END. I did hesitate, but eventually it had to be this piece. For ever now it goes for me with the 'Apocalypse Now' vision - and that is for me one of the top 5 films of all time, and please don't even try to persuade me it's rubbish. You know, I don't actually remember if there is any Doors in the film, but it doesn't matter; it is all of that time and that feeling. The Doors were excellent and the Morrsion-Manzarek combination just couldn't be beaten for the sheer power of emotion.
#82; - IVO. I have to tactically cheat here, as it's Cocteau Twins that did 'Treasure' and not Ms Fraser on her own, but I have no other way of saving 'T' for what it is its due, and 'C' had to go where it went without the slightest doubt. A note of explanation here: we did not have a normal music market in Poland in the 80's. What was bought to be released by Polish state-run record-companies seemed to be the most haphazard and bizarre selection with no sense or thought to it. However, on Radio 3 and Radio 2 (national state stations) there were journalists who had a love of music and a mission to spread their own gospel. They played whole albums with the explicit purpose of them being recorded by the public and as audience measurement did not exist, they played what *they* liked.... One or two became, for some reason, enamoured of the 4AD label and thus was born a whole generation on conversational terms with the likes of above-mentioned Cocteau Twins or This Mortal Coil project. I was one of this generation and so the tape of recorded 'Treasure' became one of my treasured possessions, the haunting, beautiful voice weaving its dreamy visions round me; perhaps closest to Muzak I ever got but how perfect for philosophical musings of 16 year olds thinking they were the height of decadent sophistication....The choice of the track is totally irrelevant, but we are not allowed whole albums so why not Ivo.
FLOYD, PINK - ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL. How much cheating are we allowed? Never mind, P is taken and thus they have to go here. Yes, I know the 'Syd Barret' period is what *the best* Pink Floyd is supposed to be about, yes
73; know it's 'The Dark Side' that it's supposed to be the masterpiece (I though it was boring really); but my acquaintanceship with Pink Floyd started through that film, y'know, with Bob Geldof spinning around and the maggots and the mincer, and whatever you can say about it, it was powerful stuff then; and this was one anthem that appealed to anti-totalitarian mind of mine, without of course any idea of the class or time connotations.
GAYNOR, GLORIA - I WILL SURVIVE. Am I allowed one really cheesy dancy number? Well, here it goes. Almost the best for 'dancing' at the height of emotional, weepy drunkenness, so camp that camper you cannot get. Lovely.
HENDRIX, JIMMY - ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER . This is a tactical vote really, as both the artist and the track had to make it to the list. It is another one I read about first and then went to find and listen to without being disappointed. I probably heard Dylan's version first but this one is perhaps more powerful, and the poetry of the allegorical (or symbolic perhaps) lyrics works so well in combination with the powerful simplicity of the music to make it one of the best rock songs ever, a true classic; one of tracks that send shivers down my spine.
POP, IGGY - THE PASSENGER. This is the best one for drunken dancing, but perhaps no weepy element here, just sheer joy of life flowing through your veins and other young drunken bodies swaying near you, I know it involves a car but what the hell, starts are made for me (and you) tonight.
;ION - DECADES. A slight change of scene here, to the dark soul wrenching from the city of satanic mills, what could be better for expressing a teenage angst that a line like 'Here are the young men with a weight on their shoulders'; plus the signature heavy sound to go with it. It is arguable if 'Closer' is the better of the albums, but if choosing a single track, it has to be this one. A friend of mine got through entry exam for psychology degree by quoting from this song and comparing it to a quote from Polish romantic poetry...not a done thing then, but worked.
KRAFTWERK - TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS. Back to fun times. I never was a Kraftwerk kind of person, really. But this one track epitomised on some level everything I wanted my life to be then and thus I just put up with the Kraftwerk element to it. Thanks to that I am now in position to include another classical classic on my list....
"Rendezvous on Champs-Elysées
Leave Paris in the morning on T.E.E.
In Vienna we sit in a late-night cafe
Straight connection, T.E.E.
From station to station
back to Dusseldorf City
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie"
LENNON, JOHN - GIVE PEACE A CHANCE. Please don't squirm. Please. The Stones didn't make it to the list (mostly due to better candidates for any letter I could use) and it would be really dishonest to exclude That Other Band. John Lennon and the Beatles (yes, in this order) were probably my first conscious musical love and some of i
t remained with me till now. This song epitomises what moved me and made me feel a part of a great human family then. It still does.
MUSIC, ROXY - LOVE IS THE DRUG. I knew Bryan Ferry from sweet nothingness of Avalon then, and then I saw this video of some Roxy Music live performance, vaguely military uniforms, swaying Bryan Ferry and this incredible, weird, hypnotic song. It had to make the list although I am not sure what its significance for me is. I remember it very well, still, after years of not having heard it so it must have done something to my brain to make such an impression. It's a great song, all right?
NEW MODEL ARMY - FATE. The warriors are still fighting on, I am happy to learn from somebody's review. I am glad as, although NMA are not perhaps amongst the greatest of the greatest they are a good band who - at least then - sang their meaningful texts to the tune of rather melodic, powerful rocky anthemy music. B class it might be, but left me moved and asking for more.
"I put my hands into the roaring flames
I felt the pain as it started to burn
I've done the same thing over again and again
As if I never ever wanted to learn
Moving through the world at obsession speed
Leave a dust trail crossing the land
I'm crying out in fury to the gods of fate
Come on, get me if you can "
O'CONNOR SINNEAD - KINGDOM OF RAIN. I do not have a massive attachment to this song but it goes some way towards raising the embarrassingly low number of female artists here although it is a duet. I us
ed to like Sinnead though at some point and as it's a dramatic love song that moved me when I first heard - beautifully fitting the state of perpetually 'unlucky in love' between the ages of 14 and 22....
PULP, THE - COMMON PEOPLE. I was gobsmacked when I first heard this song. I knew nothing of Britpop then, and for some reason I thought it was Blur; I am telling you I went out next day and bought two Blur albums (it was already after the capitalist explosion) and only found out later.... I liked Blur anyway but was terribly disappointed not to find the thing I was looking for. I don't know why it worked so well for me; somehow it was 'about Britain' for me then, it seemed to be a perfect description including the flat above the shop, and the St Martin's College, and even hair cutting....For the record, I nevre liked Oasis.
QUEEN - WE WILL ROCK YOU. Ah well, we have to have Q, don't we? I searched far and hard but nothing else came even close, so I had to settle for Mr Mercury. I actually rather like some of the Queen songs, but in a slightly detached, Not My Kind of Thing way. This track is at least, well, swayable.
REM - LOSING MY RELIGION. Seem to be in an 'odd single ones' zone here, as it is another band that would not necessarily be on my favourites list, but - perhaps because it was well marketed with the video and everything - this one stays; and I cannot even say it's because of the lyrics, more the way it was sung and played, bit New Orderish (or am I talking bollocks here, please all you real fans correct
me), and with such a cool detached despair.
STRANGLER& #83; - ALWAYS THE SUN. Back on the home ground, the choice of a number here is to some extent a random one; any of these slow, glowing, hypnotic, magical tracks would do really; like embers, just blow and it will explode into flames.
THE THE - BEYOND LOVE. Well, I couldn't resist such a perfect candidate for this letter. Also, I DO genuinely like Matt Johnson the only artist that sneaks here twice. This song is a powerful stuff indeed, and his voice is perfectly suited to the tune and it all matches the lyrics. It's a love song, certainly, but not of your normal love song type perhaps. I was moved then. I still am when I read it now.
"So let us take off our crosses and lay them in a tin
And let our weakness become virtue instead of sin
Our bodies stand naked as the day they were born
And tremble like animals before a coming storm
Take me beyond love
Up to something above
Upon this bed, between these sheets
Take me to a happiness beyond human reach"
UNDERGROU& #78;D, VELVET - ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES. For some inexplicable reason one of the Polish state record companies decided to purchase a licence and issue a Nico version of some of the Velvet's classic songs, so I actually heard this first from a (vinyl) record, not radio.
The original-full-ensamble version was of course much better and again, as in many cases on my list is just a token sample of what is just possibly one of the most important and influential bands in hi
story of rock.
In Poland of the 80's having heard of Velvet Underground was virtually a shibboleth, a mark of the initiated and the cool. Well, I was cool then. Nice to relive this stuff.
VICIOUS, SID - ANARCHY IN THE UK. Cheating again (and accidentally adding another dead white male to the list, I never thought of the fact that history of rock could have been seen in the same terms as the warriors of 'political correctness battles' saw literature).
It was probably the first punk piece I heard while being aware of it being punk and the combination of the subversive idea with the sheer power of the (non)musical rendition granted it the place on my list.
WAILERS, THE (AND BOB MARLEY, OF COURSE) - EXODUS. I feel better now as this dead male is at least not white... and again a token choice rather then a special selection, I like this song as well as many others. Now I think about it, I probably, subconsciously put it down here as this is what - luckily and fittingly - was being played when I got stoned first time in my life, and reggae music as well as being under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinols only come to their true meaning when combined together.
XUMBAWAMB& #65; - TODAY'S SERMON. OK, I am cheating as there is no such a band to my knowledge. However, we are nearing the end and if you are still with me after swallowing F, M and U, I can only hope that you would forgive me the X abuse. It is done in rather good cause though, as I could not, possibly, miss Chumbawamba
. Again, a token track picked at random from one of their first albums, but very nicely exemplifying their wonderful indeed mixture of nearly-sweet sometimes popsickly tunes interrupted with gritty, almost punky dissonance's and dramatically serious, heavy on politics lyrics. It's probably five years since I have actually heard this tune but once I tried to remember it came back immediately.
And now, the Reverend Abraham Meekly, saver of souls
Though they broke my legs
They gave me a crutch to walk (...)
Brothers and sisters, I have sinned more than sinning, I have been away these last four long years, but now I am returned to the fold to be among my flock. I come as humble shepherd embodied by the almighty, the power above, the power which is in me. Because I am reborn, brothers and sisters, I am living proof that government saves. (....) Now there're collecting tins for ordinations, check, credit card facilities are payable, government savings, stickers and badges on sale, T-shirts in small, medium, or large, all at competitive prices. (...) Dance wherever you may be, I am the lord of the dance said she. And if you don't dance, we have ways of making you dance. Government be with you!
Yyyyyyy.... no, I am not going to stick 'Yes' here just for the sake of it. Nor will I pretend that Neil Young had any significance for my 'musical' years. So it will stay bare as a witness to my, at last, defeated ability for cheating and selecting.
ZEPPELIN, LED - STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. I am encouraged by the fact that it was chosen to be the best classic rock track of all time on some list or another and while I wouldn't fight
for it; it certainly is powerful stuff, a true anthem, something everybody who is learning his first chords will try to play, something to close your brain and open your body to, these shivers down the spine again; these soaring guitars, the lyrics don't matter for as change, but the sound does. It stands here for all the other rock anthems I didn't have room for... just put your own here.
thanks for reading